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Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine Review
Very basic but very capable
Text, photo and video by Tom Hintz
For those who need the latest in sewing technology there are lots of computer-enhanced sewing machines that put many complicated tasks on auto pilot. Naturally, that automation comes at what can be a scary price. On the other end of the sewing spectrum are folks who need a solid sewing machine with frequently-used stitches, durability and a price tag on the cheaper side of epic. The Singer Simple Sewing Machine (#3223BY) fits that description well and despite a surprisingly low price embodies the Singer tradition of function and quality.
The Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine may have been designed as an “entry-level” machine but it was designed around an extensive metal frame that helps it run smoothly over the long haul. Controls and included stitches are minimalist but in a good way. You need not be an expert at a sewing machine to begin making or fixing things with the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine.
The Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine boasts 23 built-in stitches, an “automatic” 4-step buttonhole routine, adjustable stitch length and zigzag width. Nothing overly fancy here, just the essentials most users are going to need. For some reason, some of the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine literature touts adjustable (thread) tension like it’s an option. The tension adjustments on this machine are easy and they are effective. That is notable in a machine at this price point.
The included accessory list is impressive. Packed with the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine is an all-purpose foot, zipper foot, button hole foot, button sewing foot, edge/quilting guide, a pack of needles, spare bobbins (Class 15), an “L” screwdriver (sort of useful), darning plate (also used to cover feed dogs for freehand sewing), foot control, instruction manual, quick start guide and a fabric machine cover.
A DVD is included that covers Singer machines generally but does have lots of good info, especially for the newer sewer. They cover the basics of mechanical and electronic machines including a nice look at the various presser feet that you can get and how they are used. In the process of demonstrating some of the features you can see ways of enhancing your sewing or decorating the things you make. There is a Troubleshooting section that can help find the source of common but frustrating sewing problems.
The Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine comes features the lay-down thread spool holder that makes way more sense than the old stand-up type. Many (higher cost) machines come with an accessory upright pin and a socket for it atop the machine that is often used for sewing with two needles and threads. The Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine does not. That is not a problem as the lay-down spool post works great.
Threading the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine is no more difficult than any machine made in the last 50 years or so. The actual thread path is simple and guides printed on the machine case show the way. There is no automatic needle threader so don’t give up the reading glasses. They do provide a white background on the front of the presser foot mount that with the very bright LED work light lets you see the needle clearly.
Bobbin winding will be familiar and functions well. Here again this is an age-old but trusted system and Singer was smart to leave it alone in a machine in this price point. I like this modern version of the bobbin winder even more because when you click the bobbin drive post over to the stop the needle drive is disabled automatically. That means there is no clutch disc on the hand wheel and that eliminates the frustrating tendency of the clutch loosening up while you are doing other things. Another nice touch on an entry level machine.
In my testing of the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine I needed to tighten the upper thread tension from 4 to 5 and from then on, my stitches were snug with the top thread just visible on the underside of the fabric at each stitch. I tried several different stitch patterns, widths, lengths and speeds and the stitches remained nice and snug with no puckering or loose threads along the way. However, you are likely to need small tension adjustments with some combinations of wide/long stitches in some fabrics. The tension adjustment is consistent and effective which makes finding the needed setting simple.
Semi-Auto Button Holes
The Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine comes with a graduated button hole foot that makes getting the right sized hole easy. It’s not automatic but it is close. This is something else that will become very clear with just a little experimenting. This system works well and you get to fine-tune the stitch density and button hole length as you need. In some regards, this system is easier to “tweak” than the full automatic computerized systems.
I know it is fashionable for modern sewing machines to have large numbers of stitches available but few people use even most of them. The Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine comes with a nice array of stitches that will handle all types of fabric.
The Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine has two dials on its front panel that control the stitches. The top dial controls length and width of the stitches. There also are color-coded markings on the upper dial that correspond with the stitch images on the lower dial. You will note that the different colors of each stitch type show a variation in the width/density of that pattern. Match those colors with the ones on the upper dial to tweak that stitch. Here again, a little experimenting goes a long way and makes using the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine very simple – hence the name.
Using the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine couldn’t be easier. It may not have the electronic version of “shiny trinkets” but it works smoothly, consistently and all its features perform as advertised. The only issue I had occurred twice during an intense period of “shaking it out”.
While sewing the top thread suddenly snapped off for no apparent reason. I noticed a thread hanging down from the area of the take-up arm so removed that cover. The top thread had somehow gotten itself wrapped around the take-up arm a few times and that snapped the thread while sewing. After removing that piece of thread and re-threading the machine it worked perfectly for another day, then the same issue came up.
This time I noticed that the top thread where it loops around the rear guide was not trapped between the guide and the tension plate on its side. When re-threading the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine this time I made sure to get the thread behind that tension plate and now, after a few weeks of use the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine has worked perfectly. It is entirely possible that I am the culprit in this threading issue and not the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine.
Believe it or not there is a legitimate place in this high-tech world for a solid, basic sewing machine. The Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine has a good range of commonly used stitches. The metal frame keeps the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine running smooth and stable which also translates into a longer life. This machine has all the capabilities to help a novice sewer get better and make life easier for a more experienced operator.
With a street price of just $97.99 (9-18-2017) the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine is a great first machine or one to handle basic chores while your fancy computerized machine is thinking or doing the high-tech work. Either way, the Singer® Simple™ Sewing Machine is a great value and one you can depend on for a long time to come.
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